A few weeks ago, Gothamist resolved to indulge in brunch more often, the weekly meal we enjoy the most, maybe because it's ok to eat sweet or savory (or maybe because of the mimosas). Gothamist beat the brunch rush to Essex (120 Essex St. @ Rivington) last Sunday morning, a little ashamed to admit it was our first trip to the LES establishment.
Waiters immediately offered coffee and apologetically explained they couldn't serve the bloody mary's, screwdrivers, or mimosas that come with the $15 brunch option, until noon. The menu offers traditional brunch fare with a Latin-Jewish twist, with offerings such as a Mexican Matzo Brei breakfast special, challah bread french toast, a southern plate with eggs, gravy & biscuits, chocolate-chip pancakes, and numerous omelet options.
Servers rounded the table, pouring coffee and providing a starter of onion-poppy seed rolls. Flavorful but pungent, the rolls were tasty, but perhaps not the best preview to early morning kisses.
Gothamist, always in favor of a sweet breakfast, opted for the challah bread french toast, topped with a caramel-y banana compote and small portion of cantaloupe and strawberries on the side. Egg-y, rich, and buttery, with a scoop of ice cream the brunch could have also been a delicious dessert.
Our first dining companion indulged in the eggs benedict, runny eggs lathered in the traditional hollandaise sauce on toasted bread and a bed of salmon (by request). The eggs arrived with a side of pan-fried potatoes and lightly dressed side salad, providing nutritious greenery. Our second companion also opted for eggs, and ordered "the leo," scrambled eggs with salmon and chives, again with sides of potatoes and salad. Both reported their brunches were more than satisfactory, also evident by the clanking of forks against empty plates.
With a minute until noon, when the restaurant is legally allowed to serve alcohol on Sundays, asking, "mimosa, screwdriver, or bloody mary?" Gothamist opted for the delightfully spicy bloody mary, while one dining companion happily drank mimosas. With the last sip of each spirit, waiters and waitresses were quick to bring another and Gothamist is pretty sure we could have gotten away with seven or eight refills (all included in the $15 price), another reason Essex is a sure bet for brunch.
Essex is open 7 days a week for dinner and for brunch on Sundays, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (212)533-9616.